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West Aussies eating less than the national average of fast food

04/04/2023

Media contact: Jane Simpson, 0438 682 548, jane.simpson@cancerwa.asn.au

West Australians are heeding the LiveLighter message with new data [1] showing WA adults are eating less fast food than adults in other Australian states and cooking more at home to save money.

Cancer Council WA Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said while the results were promising there was still a lot of work to do to bring down the obesity rates in WA.

“The new data published in the Shape of Australia 2022 survey indicates 56 per cent of West Australian’s are consuming fast food once a week or more compared to the combined average of all other states of 66 per cent,” Ms Ledger said.

“Additionally, 66 per cent of WA adults are eating out less and preparing more food at home in order to reduce the cost of food bills.

“While these results are promising and highlight the potential impact of the LiveLighter campaigns here in WA, we know that there’s still work to do with 56 per cent of people still eating fast food once a week or more.”

Ms Ledger said the new data coincides with the release of LiveLighter’s second wave of the Reverse campaign which aims to increase people’s knowledge of the link between junk food and drink, and cancer risk.

“Obesity continues to be a major health concern in WA with more than 70 per cent [2] of our adult population either overweight or obese, and an estimated 8.1 per cent of all deaths in WA in 2015 attributable to excess body mass, [3]” she said.

“However, many people are still not aware that excess body fat (especially fat around the waist and vital organs) can increase the release of harmful chemicals and hormones into the body and promote inflammation. This environment makes it more likely that cells will start to divide abnormally, and that a cancer will grow.

“High body weight is a risk factor for 13 cancers, including cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, bowel and breast (after menopause).

“Eleven years on from the first LiveLighter campaign it is still vitally important that public education campaigns, such as the Reverse campaign, continue to keep health and wellbeing top of mind for the community and policy makers.

“We know the LiveLighter campaign changes the way our community thinks about junk food, but to accelerate this success, we need urgent government action that can create healthier more liveable communities, starting with the removal of junk food advertising from government owned property.”

The Reverse campaign will run State-wide across all major media platforms, including TV, radio and digital.

View Reverse assets

Background

  • LiveLighter is funded by the WA Department of Health and delivered by Cancer Council WA.
  • More information is available via the website www.livelighter.com.au about how to make small lifestyle changes to improve health.
  • Eating well and being more active are behaviours that reduce the risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, regardless of a person’s body weight. These actions can also help people avoid weight gain or lose weight to reduce cancer risk.
  • It is estimated that in Australia in 2010, almost 4,000 cancers cases were attributable to overweight and obesity [4].
  • In Western Australia in 2015, 7.8% of the total cancer burden was attributable to overweight and obesity, the second leading preventable risk factor for cancer behind tobacco use [5].
  • The number of cancer cases attributable to overweight and obesity is likely to grow over time as rates continue to increase [6].

To the editor: No “headless bodies” please

Having overweight or obesity comes with a lot of health issues. Some of these are related to the stigma that is attached to living in a larger body. We urge you to use images that are respectful, inclusive and non-stigmatising when reporting on issues related to body weight. For example, show people in larger bodies participating in everyday activities that are not related to weight gain, and use images that include their faces. We are happy to provide you with suitable images if required. Thank you for helping to set a higher standard for reporting on weight issues.

[1] Shape of Australia 2022 Survey

[2] Epidemiology Directorate, 2021. Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2020, Overview and Trends. Department of Health, Western Australia.

[3] Beswick AZ, Ambrosini GL, Radomiljac A, Tomlin S, Chapman AM, Maticevic J, Winstanley M, Kirkland L. The burden and cost of excess body mass in Western Australian adults and children. Perth, Western Australian Department of Health; 2020

[4] Whiteman, 2015

[5] Department of Health WA, 2020

[6] Pearson-Stuttard, 2018